The PhD in Dance Studies at York University is the first doctoral-level degree to be offered in Canada. Beginning in 2008-09, the program’s purpose is to prepare scholars for careers in academia or the cultural sector. Employment possibilities for graduates range from teaching in post-secondary education to work in archives and museums, arts administration, publishing, journalism and the media.
A small program, the PhD in Dance Studies admits four full-time PhD students per year to pursue advanced research in the context of a large Department of Dance. York runs established MA, BA and BFA programs and is introducing the MFA in Choreography and Dance Dramaturgy in 2008-09.
For the PhD, admission requirements include at least an A- average, proof of English language proficiency and a Master’s degree in dance or a related field in the fine arts (such as music), the humanities (such as history or women’s studies) or the social sciences (such as anthropology). Preference is given to Canadian and landed immigrant applicants.
Faculty resources currently include twelve core faculty members in the Department of Dance and seven adjunct professors from other universities and institutions, in addition to the disciplinary and interdisciplinary richness of Canada’s largest Faculty of Fine Arts and third-largest university.
The program focuses around seminars, field trips, fieldwork, conferences and work in archives and special collections in Toronto and elsewhere. York University has excellent facilities and resources: the Sound and Moving Image Library, state-of-the-art studios, computer labs and video equipment. Students benefit from assistantships and scholarships, contacts with the professional world, interaction with students of diverse backgrounds and an extensive network of MA alumni.
The PhD offers two fields which encompass not only the program’s major strengths but also careful assessment of student demand and societal need. All courses emphasize theory, methods and foundational scholarly literature. Within each field there are several paths students may choose for dissertation research. The fields are Dance Ethnography & Cultural Research and Dance History & Heritage Studies.
Dance Ethnography & Cultural Research takes an interdisciplinary approach to cross-cultural dance studies through ethnographic and historical research methods, with emphasis on economic and cultural globalization as well as education. The field addresses a range of dance forms in local and global contexts—from popular contexts to religious settings, and from educational institutions to concert stages. Drawing upon critical and cultural theory, students will delve deeply into the social, cultural and political implications of dance, while also querying the challenges of approaching the body and bodily experience as a research subject and research tool. The field’s emphasis on contextual analysis involves explorations into how historical and cultural constructions of power, gender, sexuality, the body, identity, class and race influence dance practices.
Dance History & Heritage Studies explores ways in which theatrical, social and popular dance has been practiced, theorized, transmitted and documented in diverse times and places. The field uses methodologies from the fine arts, humanities and social sciences to investigate movement styles and repertoires as well as identities, communities, discourses, organizations and institutions. The Canadian dance context provides a framework for studying Aboriginal and immigrant dance experiences within the political and theoretical constructs of colonialism, nationalism, regionalism and official multiculturalism. Dance reconstruction, choreographic analysis, iconography and musicology combine with critical writing, historiography, oral history and public history in the process of assessing the status of dance and examining its artistic, social and political functions. Archival and museum work emphasizes the preservation of dance through collections, exhibitions and publications.
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